HEART Marathon is committed to raise funds to support 100 children with heart diseases at Jakaya Kikwete Cardiac Institute (JKCI). In collaboration with Tanzania Health Summit (THS) and Save the Children Tanzania, the marathon aims at collecting funds that will support in conducting surgeries to 100 children who cannot afford the treatment. JKCI Institute Director of Nursing Services, Dr Robert Mallya said that the marathon was chosen because it is an activity which is associated with health.
“There are over 500 children who are in need of heart treatment at JKCI and this marathon will be able to fund at least 100 of them to access treatment,” he stated. Themed ‘run for every heart beat’, the marathon is set to take place on April 28th at the Coco Beach grounds from 6 am, where 3000 people are expected to participate.
The guest of honour is expected to be the Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Dr Augustine Mahiga and the event host will be the Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Ummy Mwalimu, explained Dr Mallya.
“Until now over 2000 people have already registered and registration will continue up to Saturday. Alphonce Simbu, the Tanzanian marathon hero, has already registered,” he said. Every surgical operation costs 2 million, he said, adding that anyone who will contribute to a child’s treatment and wishes to see the child will be able to do so before and after the surgery. He insisted that the problem is still huge, because out of every 100 children, one child has a heart problem.
“It is a big problem and we will continue to bring awareness to the community, because anyone can get a heart disease. A child may be born healthy but acquire heart disease due to small cases like flu. Don’t ignore what you think is just a small problem, because it might lead to a heart problem.” JKCI conducts surgery on children of two weeks to 15 years old and most children admitted are the ones with congenital heart diseases.
On the other hand, Pediatric Cardiologist at JKCI, Dr Naiz Majani said that the marathon will also include physical exercises and cycling. “There will also be a health screening centre on preventable chronic diseases like blood pressure and diabetes,” she stated. She also elaborated that race categories will include half marathon of 21 kilometres, 10 kilometres, 5 kilometres and 700 metres for children.
“Every participant will get a medal, and winners from every category will get awards. For example, the first winner of the half marathon will get 2 million/-, the second runner up will get 1.5 million/-, third winner will get one million/- and fourth to tenth winners will each get 500,000/-,” she said. She emphasized for people to participate in the marathon because it will be a stepping stone for families to create a healthy exercising habit.
Meanwhile, Head of Blood Donor Management Department, Eastern Zone, Ms Judith Gashashi said that they will also be present at the marathon to collaborate with JKCI and that they will have a pavilion where they will be collecting blood from donors. “The blood donated will help in the surgery of the 100 children. During surgery one child may need at least five to seven pints of safe blood,” she said.
She called for people with rare blood groups that have negative Rhesus factor to come forward and donate blood as children in need of such blood have a hard time to obtain it.
Finally, Dr Mallya insisted on blood donating, saying that it is very important because they will need around seven to eight hundred bottles of blood for the surgeries. He also requested winners to contribute their winnings to the children in need of the surgery.